Success and Motivation

I was so tickled yesterday. I got an email back from the web mistress of CatholicChicks.com. She was letting me know that she posted my guest blog on the website. So far it’s my first "published" work. It’s nothing special, just a tidbit that I wrote using Write or Die, but I wrote it and it’s posted on someone else’s site. It got me to thinking that maybe I really can pull off this whole writing thing. Perhaps if I make that particular blog entry a bit longer and more detailed a magazine like the Catholic Digest would like it. There’s a lot more options when I sit here and think about it.

Apparently the world is larger than my novel. Be still my beating heart. 😉 This one success has given me ideas for future articles. Perhaps even a series of articles on the Beatitudes. We’ll see. I do want to get my novel done. Especially if I can get it done before November. Because I would really like to participate in National Novel Writing Month again. The stress makes it real hard to succeed, especially for a full time working single mom, but the kinship that comes from the rest of the online community is beautiful. I think this year I’ll put a few of the NaNoWriMo posters up in Georgetown and Andrews and hopefully be able to schedule a write in somewhere. Maybe.

That being said I am fired up to get to writing now. I think that I have the motivation for future works, be they novels or blog entries. I mean, look at it this way. How long has it been since my last entry? I rest my case. 🙂

So where to next? I’m going to end this use of Write or Die and go eat some breakfast. (I love vacations!) After that I’m going to hit the keyboard again with Write or Die and pound out another chapter of my novel. I’m trying to fix the first part of my novel now that I’ve discovered the background to the people that live in it.

I can’t wait. I’m so excited!

And again, my guest blog is called Is God Your Last Resort. 🙂

The Phlegmatic / Melancholic Extraordinaire

This semi-blog entry is dedicated to anyone who really wants to know how I tick. If you don’t care, don’t bother reading. 🙂 The following portion of this blog entry is copied from the page that showed up after I completed the Temperament Quiz at CatholicMatch.com. Yes, I visited a matching site. Stop laughing. I mean it. Oh whatever. It’s still pretty cool. It’s the first time that any quiz has really pegged me.

The phlegmatic-melancholic is introverted (though

less so than the melancholic-phlegmatic), which means that his deep emotions and anxieties tend not to be clearly expressed. They tend to react extremely slowly when confronted by antagonism or strong emotions. They are personable, quiet, and gentle. They value harmonious relationships. When you are first entering a relationship with a phlegmatic-melancholic, you may be struck by how easy-going and agreeable they are, but be aware that they are not revealing the depth of their emotions to you. They are deeply sensitive and value harmony and high ideals within a relationship. As a result of his delayed and sometimes dull response, a phlegmatic-melancholic will be slower to speak out, tempted to procrastinate, and reticent. They may appear – or believe themselves — at times to be “lazy.” At times when the melancholic aspect dominates, he will have plenty of time in which mull over in his mind what his response should have been. He may become easily offended (though he may not reveal this to you) or discouraged. The phlegmatic attentiveness to relationships, and to getting along and keeping the peace, will “take the edge off” some of the melancholic tendency to perfectionism and critical judgments of others. On the other hand, because he may be more easily offended, he may want to be critical of others yet hesitant to confront directly. The dominance of the phlegmatic temperament may also drive the melancholic proclivity to order and neatness out of the picture.

If you are a phlegmatic-melancholic, you will show a cooperative spirit and a desire to please, and will value harmonious relationships. You are particularly gifted in teaching, mediating among groups, and at counseling individuals. And though yours isn’t the most dynamic temperament, your lack of defensiveness, calmness under pressure, and gift for mediation in critical situations can make you a very effective servant-leader, one who is willing to roll up his sleeves and work along with those he leads by example.

This temperament combination can face at times a greater challenge to his confidence than other temperaments (especially the choleric or sanguine). For this reason, when you are facing a major challenge or have been given a multi-faceted and demanding project, it will be absolutely critical for you to maintain your level of energy and motivation — not to mention your prayer life– to complete the project. You will want to anticipate the way your moods can get you off track, and take concrete steps to maintain accountability in order to remain focused and energized throughout the task. Motivational tapes, exercise and a healthy diet, spiritual guidance, and a strong sacramental life will be critical. You will also need to maintain your focus on the big picture at all times, and not be distracted by the “urgent” demands of the moment, or by what other people may ask of you. To this end, it is always wise to seek regular professional, personal, and spiritual guidance from qualified individuals. In order for the phlegmatic temperament to achieve success and reach his goals, he should always work with a motivational program that provides structure, inspires confidence, and ensures accountability.

If you are phlegmatic-melancholic, it’s likely that you are a bit more upbeat than the melancholic-phlegmatic, a little less introverted, more trusting, slightly less moody, more generous with your time, and a more gracious host. You will rarely find yourself angry (though your feelings may be easily hurt), forgive more readily, and do not hold onto hurts in the same way that a more dominantly melancholic temperament would. You are compassionate, sensitive, caring, and tend to gravitate to the helping professions. You are a patient and caring teacher. You are not as “perfectionist” as a pure melancholic, and generally struggle with organization, planning, and a tendency to procrastinate. You find it difficult to set limits or turn someone down who asks a favor of you; you may be especially drawn to volunteer or missionary work, the apostolate, or other works of mercy. Though very generous, you may find it difficult to set priorities or limits. Your phlegmatic side makes it hard to say “no” – although you really want to. Sometimes your generosity can result in not enough time to “get organized,” be prepared, or to relax. Burn-out and feeling overwhelmed may result.

If your temperament is phlegmatic-melancholic, for a better understanding of your temperament it is recommended that you read the full descriptions of the phlegmatic and melancholic.

When It Rains It Pours

Oh dear. I very nearly had an emotional breakdown a moment ago. Let me give you a little bit of background first.

On Tuesday apparently there was a thunderstorm of some sort. I wouldn’t know because I was at work at the time. The problem is that I came home to find that while my stove works the oven doesn’t, the internet was somehow offline, most of our local channels were inaccessible, my monitor didn’t work at all, and my terabyte Book that I bought with my income tax money was also fried. This was one evening for me. Let me tell you, I thought the world was crashing down around me. My bank account was also about to be in the negative and my gas card (my PayPal card) was missing.

The next day I spent most of the day trying to make sense of the problems. I managed to troubleshoot my monitor on my own to make sure that it wasn’t something simple like the cables before contacting Dell. A couple days later they shipped me my new monitor via FedEx which is a whole other can of worms that I’ll tell you about some other time. I probably won’t arrange for the old one to be picked up until Wednesday, which is my next day off. The internet issue was apparently just the DSL box needing to be reset. At that same time I found out that one of the telephone wires running to the box was also fried. Let me tell you, those surge protectors that have the phone line plugs are WORTH IT! Of course having a surge protector didn’t save my monitor or Book. Both were plugged into a surge protector.

I just sent an email out to Western Digital this afternoon. I’m hoping to hear back from them soon one way or another. The Book is definitely under warrantee, and I also paid for the extended warrantee with Wal-Mart. I also sent an email out to whirlpool (manufacturer of our oven) and they gave us a few suggestions and a link to find the local service company. After following their suggestions I’m predicting that the issue is with the control board or whatever they call it. We contacted a nearby, or as nearby as anything is to Andrews, Maytag place and they’re sending some one out next week. Once it’s fixed we’re celebrating with having a frozen pizza for dinner. 🙂 Unfortunately it’ll be a full week until the Direct TV folks get out here to fix the satellite issue. But it’ll be worth it. The guy I talked to from Direct TV was really nice and gave me a 99% guarantee that a complete upgrade of everything from dish to receiver would be free.

That brings me up to today. I was getting ready to start fixing dinner. I was going to put some chicken in my brand new steamer. Steamed chicken sounds odd to me, but the steamer booklet says that it can do it so I wanted to try it. About five minutes into the process the steamer gives an error beep and cuts off. I can keep turning it back on, but it only works for a couple minutes. That doesn’t do me a bit of good. I’ve looked all through the booklet and there’s no explanation. There’s no explanation on the website for the manufacturer either. So now I’m waiting on an email from both Western Digital and Rival. Hopefully I’ll get good news from them.

Now comes the emotional breakdown part. I plug in my USB drive that holds my novel. The only copy right now, mind you. I moved it off of my hard drive so that I would be able to use it while waiting on a new monitor. I jump to the section that I was working on last time and now comes the heart attack part. I’m missing a huge chunk of writing. I’m talking about around a month’s work. Oddly enough I have three different copies of my novel on my flash drive.

Anyway…. I’m much better now. My heart rate is back to normal and I’m ready to sit down to write again. I’ve been fortified on soda and chocolate and I’m ready to get going. I’m hoping for a thousand words before I head off to bed.

Mormon Articles of Faith or Works versus Faith

Wow, I’m using the actual Live Journal website to update. That’s pretty amazing. The reason for it is almost as amazing. I was doing research for my novel’s background this evening. I can’t just use an organization or group for my novel’s history, if I don’t know anything about them. So I was doing some research on the Mormon’s this night and I stumbled across this page. (Edit: I lied. Opera, my browser of choice, had a heart attack so I copied and pasted into my blog software on my desktop.)

http://www.mormonbeliefs.org/articles_faith

What is really neat about this link isn’t the information per se. What I really found fascinating was the debates that cropped up in the comment portion after the document. I’ve always found the works versus faith argument fascinating. My personal feeling has always been how can you believe in faith alone when your faith and so called love for Jesus should lead you to the works part. I can’t see how they can be separated at all. And here’s my can of worms I’m about to open. Personally I believe that those who TRULY see it as works alone are showing how shallow their faith is. If you have really "accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior" then how can you not see good works/good deeds as necessary? We’re supposed to want to follow in His footsteps so to speak. I’d put up Bible quotes and whatnot but for two very good reasons. There’s a pretty good list in the comments section in the link I showed up there. (I cheered for some of them as I was reading.) And number two is that I’m extremely sleepy and about to fall asleep at the computer. 🙂

That being said, I hope I didn’t alienate anyone reading this. But then again, I don’t care if I alienate anyone that doesn’t believe in being a good person doing good deeds, even if not required to.

Good night all!

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Live Journal Writer’s Block Question:

Perhaps no genre has benefited more from the Internet than the rant, and Live Journal has seen some of the finest in its class. What is your favorite rant from the pages of LJ?

Hmm… I have to be perfectly honest here. I don’t travel about on Live Journal much. I do have to say that my favorite rant is about working conditions. It’s something that nearly everyone can identify with. Like they say, misery loves company.

A Solution Comes Into View

(chanting) I figured it out! I figured it out!

Kudos to whoever knows which commercial I got that from. And my hat off to anyone that knows where it came from before that, if there was a before that. I certainly don’t know.

I am very hyped right now. Yesterday I was at Health Point, a gym in Pawleys Island, and I was watching a news program while using one of the high tech stationery bikes. They suck  for a workout for me, but I can’t do any of the other cardio machines right now because of my bones spurs in my feet. Anyway, something on the news program made me think of the ideal people for my mysterious island issues. The reason that the Amish would have been ideal was because they prefer to live without modern conveniences. It would give them motive to want to move to a "land" where there were no temptations at all. But the down side that I mentioned before was that they would not have the political backing to actually make the move… unless a land baron of some sort or some special interest group made the effort for them. And in addition to that… would the Amish actually want to pack up and move and start over?

Anyway my solution came to me while I was debating and watching the news. What I wanted was some sort of strict sect that has strict rules and methods so to speak. They also would need the incentive to make the move. I came upon a brilliant answer to my dilemma. The Mormons came to mind eventually. At the time all I knew about them was that they, or at least some, were polygamists or supported polygamy. Since polygamy is illegal they would have the incentive to make the move. I’m still not certain about them having enough political power, but I thought that if I had to I could have them kind of hitch a ride with the Romani, who when I’m done with them will have the political power and the funding.

So now I just have to do more research on them to learn more about them and plan how I can pull this off. I’ve already found out that what I need exactly is the Mormon Fundamentalists. They consider themselves just Mormons, but the Church of Later Day Saints says that only their people can be considered Mormon. It’s an interesting situation really. I can probably sketch out a quick chart of sorts determining how their beliefs would alter after having relocated to my island. We’re talking maybe… a hundred years down the road. Long enough that they probably would have forgotten how they got there. They will be going back to basics after all. And I suppose there will be some who will remember more than others.

Of course, I can always use my mom’s suggestion also. She mentioned, jokingly, the pygmies.


Live Journal Writer’s Block Question:

What do you want your last meal to be?

Hmm… I’d have to say… A grilled shrimp salad and bowl of she crab soup from Lands End in Georgetown. I absolutely love that stuff!

The Debate Continues

I’m still debating different organizations to use for my novel’s background. I need some sort of Victorian-style group. I’m picturing some stern or strict sort of people. Definitely no feminism in this local. The problem is that they need to have political backing. One of my options would be a Colonial American group. The sorts of groups that would have political roots, but also keep up the old traditions. Like the people that teach tourists how nails were made in the old days. Or those that are serious about the battle reenactments. I don’t know if the Colonial American time period has sparked enough attention to warrant the political power that would allow them to accomplish what I want.

Originally I wanted to use the Scottish or Irish, but unless they were in addition to my Romani, they wouldn’t do the job I wanted them to do. I can’t picture the Scottish or Irish as the stern group that I want. But then again, I haven’t done that much research into their historic culture. It might be time to head over to the library. I’m off from work on Friday so I might make a day of it. If anyone has any suggestions on particular articles or books that I might want to look out for, any and all help is appreciated. Especially for online sources. Almost everything I look for is about protecting the land or landmarks. But I’m looking for culture. The Amish would have been good, but I can’t figure out what it would take to get the Amish to evacuate to another land.

cartoon

I don’t know. I need to keep thinking about it some. I’ll come up with a solution sometime.


Live Journal Writer’s Block Question:

What’s your favorite thing to order for takeout (or takeaway)?

Definitely Pizza. Whenever we travel, as a family of course, I always look forward to being able to call for delivery pizza. It’s something that I’ll never be able to get out here in the boonies.

Giving Catholicism a Bad Name

I wasn’t sure what to write about today until I remembered something that got on my nerves a bit yesterday. We have one member of my church that does something that really irritates me at times. When we say the Hail Mary during church he actually turns to the statue of Mary that we have near the front of the church. I couldn’t believe it the first time I saw that.

There are people that believe us to worship Mary. Those that believe we worship our statues. I mean really, come on. The second couldn’t be further from the truth and the former is a bit too far. We revere Mary, not worship. Huge difference. And the statues are merely reminders. We don’t worship them.

But people that do stuff like that are sometimes seen by those outside the church. And I’m sure that he’s not alone in this. What in the world are people supposed to believe when they see behaviors like this? I wish I had the guts to say something to him. Besides, even if I did as a choir member I’m one of the last people to leave the church. I never seen him.

Statue of Mary

Yes, this really is a picture of the statue in my church. The wooden boxy bit behind it is part of the organ.

The Romani and I

I’ve been doing research for the background of my novel. I know, I should have done that before I started working on it at all. I didn’t therefore I’m doing it now. Anyway, I’ve been trying to play catch up and do a bit of research now. You see, the problem with my novel is that there is no culture to it. There’s nothing there to make it feel real. In my opinion that’s the vital key to making a story successful. Right now it’s just plot on paper. So I’ve been trying to work backwards here, but I can to a disturbing conclusion. I can’t add any culture until I, the author, knows what sort of culture that they left behind. I can’t decide where’re they’re at, so to speak, until I know where they’re coming from.

The problem comes from the fact that I need cultural groups that have upheld the ways from the past. Like those people that work old fashioned forges in those little historic villages, or the people that live the old way of life. My initial thought would have been the Amish and the Romani. The problem is that they need to have some sort of government or at least political representation. That led to more research on my part. Turns out that the Romani are perfect. They have the World Romani Congress and the International Romani Union. The later is what I’m really looking for because they are an organization that basically protects the rights of the Romani people. One of its goals is to develop the cultural traditions, customs and language of the Romani. It’s exactly what I was looking for. image

Unfortunately, the Amish don’t have anything like that. In fact when they were involved with the courts over the issue of their children attending high schools they didn’t even represent themselves. Some outside group stepped in to speak up for them. I need something a bit more structured than that. That does however leave me with at least one other group that I need. I can find room for more than just two, but I have to have at least two.

That does lead me to the reason for writing this blog to begin with. I was telling my mom last night about choosing the Romani. It comes out then that we actually have Romani blood in us. It comes from her side, but she couldn’t remember if it was from her mom’s or her dad’s side. It’s fascinating the way things work out. I’m definitely using the Romani now. Still got to work out at least one other group.

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Why Do You Read What You Read?

Stephen King says in his Afterword to Different Seasons that the minimum length for a novel is about 40,000 words, that the maximum for a short story is about 20,000, and that anything in between is the "banana republic . . . of Novella." (copied from wikipedia flash fiction entry) I found this funny for some reason. It’s probably the banana republic part.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about what I like in a novel. Don’t ask me why, my train of thought tends to jump rails fairly often. But what I was thinking is that what I look for in a novel is essentially what I will attempt to model my writing after. It’s only natural. You see it from childhood on up. Everyone imitates those that they look up to. What’s the saying? Imitation is the highest form of flattery.

What I admire most about an author is the ability to create an entire world. For example, Piers Anthony and his Xanth and Mode books. Anne McCaffrey and her dragons. Robin McKinley only has two, but even she brought her own little world to life. Mercedes Lackey and her set of Valdemar books. These authors have created whole worlds that they play in. That’s what I want to be able to do. I was thinking about it a couple days ago and I think that the reason why they make it work is because of creating a sense of society when you read them. When someone goes to visit someone else the world exists beyond just those two people. There are communities and certain things that happen behind the scenes that you never see happening that drive what the characters say and do.

Blast. I think I need to rewrite a few of my earlier chapters. In the meantime, what do you look for in your books?

Why….

Just why am I doing this? Well, I guess it starts with last year November when I made my attempt at the National Novel Writing Month. It has always been my dream to be a writer and I read somewhere that anything is possible, but the hardest part is beginning. Every dream that I had made no difference if I didn’t take that first step and actually begin. National Novel Writing Month gave me that first step.

I suppose if you’re not into writing you probably have never heard of it. Those that have heard of it are probably thinking back to their own first NaNoWriMo novel. While they’re taking trips down memory lane I’ll explain. National Novel Writing Month is basically a challenge. Not against other people, but against yourself. Well, you could challenge other people, but that’s not the point. The point is that you’re challenged to make that first step. You’re challenged to sit down and actually begin. The official challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, basically the month of November. In 2008 I took that challenge and barely squeaked in by the skin of my teeth. I wanted to offer a quote from one of my favorite authors and who I look up to most of all:

So maybe you won’t be a successful novelist, or even a good one. At least you are trying. That, would you believe, puts you in a rarefied one percent of our kind. Maybe less than that. You aspire to something better than the normal rat race. You may not accomplish much, but it’s the attitude that counts. As with mutations: 99% of them are bad and don’t survive, but the 1% that are better are responsible for the evolution of species to a more fit state. You know the odds are against you, but who knows? If you don’t try, you’ll never be sure whether you might, just maybe, possibly, have done it. So you do have to make the effort, or be forever condemned in your own bleary eyes.

That was sent in by Piers Anthony as a pep talk during the fourth week of National Novel Writing Month. Now, six full months later I’ve gone from 50,000 to 72,170 words. It’s that realization that has me wondering just why I’m trying to add more onto my plate. Between twitter and face book I’m already wasting a lot of time. How much time can I afford to waste and still meet my goal? I’m already being plagued by a nasty case of writer’s block.

On the other hand, every writer that I’ve read about and talked to has suggested that I start a blog. But what does someone new to both writing regularly and blogging write about? I can see when I’m done with the novel I can write about who I send my novel to for possible publication. I can write about the fifty million rejection letters. But now? Ooooh. Right now I can mention that I wrote 500 words to my novel before starting this entry. That really sounds like bragging rights, doesn’t it? Right. Even I can’t believe that one.

I suppose in the future you can expect to see rants about writer’s block, stubborn plot lines, and research issues. Maybe even some writing exercises. Those are usually good for a laugh or two when using random sentence writing prompts. And fair warning, I may even through in disturbingly normal gripes about family, work, and life in general.

Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be a famous published author and you can say that you knew me back when. 🙂

Let’s see where this road takes us.